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View Diary: A response to Tom Vilsack (148 comments)

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  •  even violin juries can be Kirk's Kobiashi Moru (none)
    I took a few violin juries in college too.  They terrified me -- violin did not come easily to me and I was already moving toward my other musical interests.  But the one time that I and not my teacher chose my jury piece, I scored my personal best ratings.  Among many other lessons, that incident taught me something very important about tests:  doing well on one is sometimes as much about being clever and creative as it is about having the substantive knowledge the test is purported to cover.  

    For the "chosen piece" at my sophomore jury I picked a rather obscure 20th-century sonata that I'd heard on record.  I chose the piece primarily because I liked it well enough to work harder than usual to be able to play it.  I also knew that it was obscure and modern enough that music students never attempted it, and so I was likely to get a fresh hearing.  As it turned out, of three jurists the only one who was familiar with the piece had only heard it once.  I had chosen terrain that was favorable to me because they weren't familiar with it, whereas I knew it intimately.  So instead of "evaluating" me against a template, the jury had to listen to my interpretation of a piece I felt passionate about -- and that is, after all, what musicianship is supposed to be about.  

    Fortunately for me, it worked.  The jury were delighted by the piece, and I'm sure my ratings were inflated as a result.  

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